Glucosamine is a natural component of cartilage, the cushioning material in joints and between bones. The body’s production of the substance decreases with age, which contributes to problems with joint discomfort and inflexibility. In the 1970s, veterinarians began using glucosamine as an injected substance, finding that it had beneficial effects on their patients for increased mobility. Glucosamine in an oral supplement became available in the 1990s, and can be purchased today from reputable manufacturers. Anyone who is interested in one of these companies may find out more about NuvetLabs here.
Chemistry of Glucosamine
This substance actually is a chemically simple one. It consists of the amino acid glutamine along with glucose. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, while glucose is a form of sugar. In addition to being present in healthy cartilage, glucosamine also occurs naturally in tendons, ligaments and muscles.
Decades ago, veterinarians were primarily interested in using glucosamine for horses, as joint problems are relatively common in these large animals. Once research indicated that it was safe and effective for humans, people also began taking glucosamine supplements for joint health.
Glucosamine taken orally or by injection appears to help rebuild this substance in cartilage that has become worn over time due to aging or injury. It seems to stimulate the synthesis of new components of cartilage as well as synovial fluid, the viscous liquid in joints that adds cushioning effects. That helps replace some of the lost cartilage in joints and may even have protective effects against continuing cartilage loss.
This is an entirely different effect than other substances taken to improve the comfort of joints and to increase mobility. Carprofen, for instance, is commonly provided by vets to dogs that experience joint pain. Carprofen gives them substantial relief as it decreases inflammation, but it can also have unpleasant side effects that are not associated with glucosamine.
Supplements for Pets
Glucosamine is helpful and safe not only for humans and horses, but for dogs and cats as well. Many of these animals also tend to develop loss of cartilage and the associated reduction in easy mobility as they reach their senior years. Their owners can improve their pets’ quality of life with high-quality glucosamine supplements.